April 3, 2008

BTT: Lit-Ra-Chur

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Booking Through Thursday
  • When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)
  • Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?


Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!


Lit-Ra-Chur. I can just imagine a gray haired man writing 'literature' on a chalkboard when I read that. It's funny the first thing I think of isn't Tolstoy or Dickens but the CBC. I think of on-air interviews with Margaret Atwood or someone of that type. Books written by Tolstoy or Dickens don't make me think 'literature'. They make me think 'classic'. Dickens wrote most of his stuff as a serial for the newspaper. He needed the money. At the same time, he brought to the public an awareness of important societal problems, like poverty. I don't know if he was aware he was creating literature.

In my bookclub, The Classics Club, we read just that: classics. We've read 2 Tolstoy, 2 Dickens, Lolita, Jane Eyre and only one Austen. That's just the tip of the iceberg. We take a pretty light hearted approach to discussing the books, although we do get into the deeper meanings. These are books we read for enjoyment and because we want to learn why these books are so important.

I don't really care for categories anyway. There seems to be a lot of snobbery in the book world. People judge others on what they read or write. Margaret Atwood got in a huff over being called a Sci-Fi writer. Then there are rebel websites like Smart Bitches Who Read Trashy Novels. They defend the romance genre and the people who read them. They fight the idea of the romance reader as being unintelligent. But that's not really what this question is about...

So, yes, I read 'literature' whatever way YOU choose to define it. I'll read just about anything, so long as it's well written.

15 comments :

  1. I agree! If I like a book, I continue reading it irrespective of it being a classic or otherwise! What is literature, anyway?

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  2. Interesting question this week! I tend to see a difference on my bookshelf between what is literature and what is simply fiction, but I'm sure a lot of that is my preference and biases. And, to be fair to Dickens--the novel didn't have as much clout as it does now--novels were often thought to be women's reading (what!!!! how dare they!). :) Ya, he was a little bit of a hack, but so was Fitzgerald. ;)

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  3. I think you're right about categories and book snobbery. I wish I didn't categorise as much as I do, but sometimes it's hard to get away from it!

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  4. Book snobbery. I like that. It really seems to fit some books doesn't it. Some classics seem that way but wordiness was very popular in those days. Why say it in three words when you can stretch it to fourty or fifty! Strunk & White had not appeared on the scene yet.
    Happy BTT!

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  5. Well said - books are for enjoyment and if you don't enjoy a book don't read it. I like Dickens and Tolstoy and Margaret Atwood, etc. I don't like categories either.

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  6. Yes, I agree. Way too much snobbery and judgery involved! Read what you like,you'll know what's good and what isn't.

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  7. This is definitely the best reply I've read so far. Thank you.

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  8. I don't like the snobbery that is often the hidden meaning when people say they "only read literature."

    Happy BTT.

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  9. Book snobbery _ I love that. :)

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  10. "Literature" makes me think of election campaigns here in the U.S., when campaign representatives will call up looking for volunteers to distribute "literature" (i.e., fliers with information about the candidate). I never read that stuff. I just read good books.

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  11. Gautami- Exactly.

    Trish- Yes, reading novels will rot your brain.

    Joanna- Got to break that habit!

    Jaimie- Some of them are super wordy.

    Booksplease & Lesley- Read only what you like.

    Table Talk- Thank you!

    Puss- I think that's why people buy 'books by the yard'.

    Maree- Thanks

    Rob- You are too funny. That's the way to look at it.

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  12. I love your answer to this week's question, Chris, and I completely agree.

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  13. I agree that I'll read something that's well written. There's plenty of trashy stuff that tells a good story. :-)

    Though I have to say that literature (classic or modern) affects me in a way that a lighter book does not.

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  14. I like the sound of your book club!

    And I agree - categories are as bad for books as they are for people. Way too much judgement going on, and pretty much always subjective.

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  15. I like to use catagories in my head for books, but only so I can try and read more widely. I have a tendency to only read Fantasy if left alone for too long and it's nice to break the habbit and read something more "real". usually though as long as I am reading I am happy whatever kind of book it is. There is snobbery out there, but I don't think I play any part on that.

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